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Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton became the latest firm in California to match the New York scale for associate salaries. The 10-office, Los Angeles-based firm said first-years in California and Washington, D.C., will now earn $160,000, though the firm said it is moving the milestone for its hours bonus from 2,000 hours to 2,100 hours. Guy Halgren, the firm’s managing partner, said the increased cost would come out of partner profits, rather than increased rates � at least in 2007. “We look at rates on an annual basis,” he said. The firm reported revenue per lawyer of $715,000 in 2006. Profits per partner were up 30 percent to $1,025,000, in part due to restructuring of the equity partner tier. Halgren said the firm had met with associate representatives, who impressed on the firm the importance of compensation in attracting and retaining the best recruits. “I don’t think compensation is the whole enchilada, but it’s one of the major food groups,” Halgren said. Also on Wednesday, Chicago-based Seyfarth Shaw announced an increase in its associate salary scale, lifting its San Francisco and Los Angeles first-years to $145,000.
Associate Salary Wars

The New York firms fired the first shot at the tail end of January, hiking starting rates to $160K. Most California firms held the line in-state at $145K … until Orrick made its surprise move in May. Follow every twist of the saga in our Hot Topic roundup.

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